from the punishment-fitting-the-crime? dept
This minor defacement was up for about 40 minutes before being taken down. When the government tried to add up the damages, the Tribune Company at first admitted that there were basically none.
Either way, the government needed the number to be at least $5000 so it could use the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) against Keys. From the sound of things at the sentencing hearing (mainly via reporter Sarah Jeong's excellent tweets), the judge initially did sound fairly skeptical about the government's arguments, but eventually went with 24 months in prison. Somewhat incredibly, someone from the LA Times even presented that this minor bit of digital vandalism was "an attack" on the entire journalism field, and since there's already difficulty in figuring out what news is real, this was a true threat to credibility for journalism as a whole. Really, now?
The prosecution also apparently whined to the judge that Keys has been talking publicly about his case, which, last I checked, is protected free speech:
Prosecutor does not like that Keys has been tweeting and giving interviews as follows pic.twitter.com/jdG5eUHkC2— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) April 13, 2016
And, really, that's the crux of the issue here. For everything that Matthew Keys was accused of doing -- and some of it was undoubtedly obnoxious -- the single thing he was charged with was violating the CFAA by distributing a username and password. And he's now been sentenced to two whole years in jail for that. How in the world does the punishment here fit the crime? As David Graham noted, this is basically the same sentence (actually slightly longer) that the "affluenza teen" received on the same day for killing four people while driving drunk. Or, as Adam Steinbaugh notes, Keys will end up spending about 18 days in prison for every minute that the LA Times defacement (which, again, he didn't actually do) remained online.
Matthew Keys will spend ~18 days in prison for every sixty seconds that the LA Times said Chippy 1337 might pass in the House.— Adam Steinbaugh (@adamsteinbaugh) April 13, 2016